Remember when you used to be able to wake up at the crack of noon? Or when you and your partner would celebrate a 10am baby-making session with some in-bed mimosas and the Sunday crossword? Well, now that the baby has been made, and has started walking, you’re probably lucky to keep your eyes closed past 6am. But on the plus side, you’ve started a morning prayer routine when your kid comes bounding into your bed: “Why, God! Please make it stop.”
Still, it would be nice to wake sometime after the first blush of the sun has hit the sky. What you need are some tips on how to stop a toddler who wakes up too early.
The Early Rising Reasons
Kids and sleep are hugely complicated bedfellows (pun intended and expertly delivered). You know this from trying to get your kid to sleep in the first place. That said, the issues that surround early rises will be very familiar.
A schedule can shift due to an incredible amount of reasons. The problem is that a schedule shift in one area will throw everything out of whack. If you find that your kid is suddenly popping up earlier you may want to start here.
When kids start being able to do things that they weren’t able to do before, it can affect their sleep. More than that, they could be waking because of physical factors like teething or pull-up wetting. Passing milestones like walking or making strides in language development could shorten your kid’s slumber. And yours, as they walk into your room at 4 a.m. to chat.
Nap Duration And Frequency
While naps are connected to your kid’s schedule, they have their own special magic. This is particularly true as kids begin to transition from 2 naps to one. That’s because the single nap will often shift. Also, depending on the length of the nap your kid could be getting too much or too little sleep. Weirdly, both of things might cause your kid to get up early. Because you can’t win.
Humans are still pretty animalistic. And some persistent instincts sneak through. Your kid will wake when they sense the sun. Or they’ll pop up if they hear a commotion. It is, after all, how they protected themselves from lions back in the day. It’s just, lions never swore about finding their keys before work
Early Riser Tips
Like most things sleep-related, getting your early riser to let you just have a few more minutes of Giselle dreams is not going to be easy. But there are some concrete steps you try to keep them from crowing at dawn. Just remember that if your kid wakes up happy and well rested at 5:30 a.m., and remains so throughout the day, you might have to adjust your own dang self.
Fix The Room
If you didn’t have to worry much about your kids’ room to get them to sleep, you may want to look at it now. It’s possible that installing some blackout curtains could keep the pesky morning rays from hitting their peepers. And to address the loudness of any coffee (or love) making that could prompt them to snap out of sleep, a white noise machine (or fan, or radio set to static) could do the trick. Just be careful not to use a device that often, as in the future they might not be able to sleep without it.
Renegotiate Nap Schedules
Be very careful about shifting schedules. It could throw things off even more. That said, your kid should probably not be napping for 4 hours before their bedtime. Also, naps should be anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half long. Any longer could throw them off.
Remember that right now your kid needs about 10-12 hours of cumulative sleep (while you apparently only need 4 hours of panicked shut-eye). But keep in mind that trying to move bedtime later might actually backfire and leave you with an even crankier, early riser. If you are going to shift nap and bedtime schedules, do it in 10-minute intervals until you’ve hit your goal.
Adjust Sleep Associations
One of the reasons your kid might wake up, and stay awake, is that they aren’t able to soothe themselves back to sleep. That’s particularly true if going to sleep in the first place requires your presence or bottles and pacifiers that are removed after they fall asleep.
The unfortunate fix to this issue is to get up when they wake and do your best to recreate the sleep associations as quietly and gently as possible. Hopefully, you’ll be able to reduce your presence in their room in the morning until they figure it out. It could take awhile.
Some of the more obvious fixes might not be particularly obvious, which sounds like something out of an Alanis Morissette song. So stay frosty. If your kid is getting up early, check out their physical condition. Do they get-up up starving? Start pushing high protein snacks before bed to keep them full through the night. If they’re getting up because they’re wet and uncomfortable, try adding an extra absorbent layer to their pull-up. Finally, tooth pain can be managed with ibuprofen. As can the headache that results from all the early mornings.
Some kids just need an assist with knowing when it’s morning time. You can help them by using a tech solution that gives them a morning cue. It’s like having a programmable robot rooster, except it’s not going to go for your eyes when it’s angry.
REMI Child Sleep Companion: This innovative tool dropped at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. It’s basically a phone-controlled, Bluetooth-enabled baby monitor. But it can be programmed to help your kid know it’s time to get up.
Slide: This device and its accompanying app allows you to open curtains remotely. Nothing will tell your kid “you can get up now” better than cranking open the blackout curtains from your bed and blinding them with sunlight.
Smart Lights Plus IFTT: If This Then That (IFTT) is an app that allows you to program all your smart devices. There are plenty of “recipes” to chose from, including those that allow you to turn on lights with specific colors at specific times.
In the end, getting your child to stay down in the morning is about trial and error. But know there is a huge range of ways to deal with it appropriately, depending on your family dynamics. Are you okay with your kid coming into your bed for a sleep in? Can they be convinced to play quietly in your room until you’re ready?
The idea is to get creative. You may not be seeing your bedroom mimosas for another dozen years, but with some patience and planning you might at least be able to wake without seeing red.